Marines with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion engage silhouette targets with M27 infantry automatic rifles while moving March 25 at Range 10 near Camp Schwab during weapons familiarization and sustainment training. The Corps has tweaked the rules regarding necessary fitness standards for Marines making lateral moves into the recon community. (Cpl. Mark W. Stroud/Marine Corps)
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Thousands more Marines are now eligible to become Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructors — just one of the dozens of revisions to the Marine Corps Military Occupational Specialty Manual for fiscal 2014.
The changes, now in effect, include major and minor revisions to occupational communities across the Marine air-ground task force, including intelligence, infantry, aviation and cyber. Some changes created entirely new MOSs or opened them to more Marines; other changes have been characterized as “administrative housekeeping” by officials.
For example, 0916 martial arts instructor — a free MOS that any Marine can earn in addition to his or her primary MOS — has been opened to corporals. Last year it was restricted to sergeants through master gunnery sergeants.
Another noteworthy change is that one of the eligibility requirements for 0202 ground intelligence officer — only men need apply — has been lifted; female Marines can now take those jobs as well. The change reflects recent policy moves to allow women to serve in more combat units. Women are still restricted from direct ground combat, however.
The changes are not nearly as broad as last year, said Randy Webb, head of the Training Development and Analysis Branch at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., which is responsible for revising the manual each year to meet the service’s ever-changing requirements. The fiscal 2013 manual saw a significant overhaul that resulted in substantive changes to a number of high profile jobs.
For example, prerequisites were toughened for 0231 intelligence specialist and 0321 reconnaissance man, because the schoolhouses that generate those Marines had high washout rates. More difficult prerequisites helped eliminate weak candidates before they dropped out, wasting time and money.
But this year’s revisions still affect a large slice of the service. The reasons for the revisions are many, Webb said. In some cases they are driven by changes in technology or new platforms. In other cases, they are prompted by efforts to improve career opportunities for Marines or the rise of a new community or mission like cyberwarfare.
Here are a few of the most notable revisions to the manual, now designated Marine Corps Order 1200.17 E, according to Marine administrative message 573/13, published in late October:
The aviation community has been “particularly active,” the target of a number of revisions as platforms are phased out, others are introduced, drones grow in importance and officials work to streamline career progression, according to Webb.
One highlight is the creation of a nominal MOS, 7377 weapons and tactics instructor unmanned aircraft systems, which is earned in addition to a primary MOS. The new specialty reflects the increased emphasis on the use of drones by the Marine Corps.
“It is recognition of the importance of that skill,” Webb said. The creation of a dedicated trainer MOS is a natural outgrowth of last year’s addition of a primary MOS for UAV pilots — 7315 unmanned aircraft commander — which gave UAV Marines a career path, he said. Before that, drone pilots filled a UAV billet for only a few years before returning to their PMOS to pick up rank. That made it difficult to retain expertise.
“We are going to see this occupational field continue to evolve,” Webb said.
The aviation community also saw at least eight MOSs merged into just four. The changes are more administrative that functional, however, according to Ken Potter an assistant operations officer in the operations branch at Training and Education Command, which assists in overhauling the manual.
For example, Marines in the 6312 MOS, aircraft communications/navigation/radar systems technician for the AV-8 Harrier, were merged into the 6332 MOS, aircraft electrical systems technician for the Harrier. The reason for the merger is that the skill set between the two specialties is on the same continuum. Marines start as one and move to the other as they attend more schools and gain expertise.
“Those MOSs were changed at certain grades for no good reason, other than Marines would go to skills progression courses to make them more competent and more advanced in those skills.” Potter said. “But they were the same guys.”
Marines will now carry the 6332 MOS for their entire career. The 6312 MOS is deleted from the manual. Similar changes were made for several more specialties.
While many changes for 2014 are limited in scope or have minimal effect on the Marines serving in the community, big changes are likely in the years to come as several platforms come online or are retired like the EA-6B Prowler, Webb said. Prowlers are responsible for a large portion of the service’s electronic warfare mission. Once they are retired in 2019, the Marine Corps will have to figure out what to do with its electronic warfare officers. That could result in a new MOS for EW officers in the UAV community, Webb said, as UAVs take over more and more of that mission.
Martial arts instructors
One change likely to excite junior Marines is the expansion of eligibility for the 0916 martial arts instructor. Previously limited to sergeants and above, corporals can now earn the FMOS.
As an instructor, they are responsible for training other Marines in close quarters combat and the core values that are infused throughout the curriculum of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. To qualify, Marines must hold at least a gray belt and have first-class Physical Fitness and Combat Fitness Test scores.
The change was likely made because there are many qualified young Marines who are excited by martial arts, and they would make strong instructors, Webb said.
Marines with a shoulder injury in the past two years or a concussion in the past six months are ineligible for the specialty.
Once cleared to become an instructor, selected Marines will attend a Martial Arts Instructor Course at one of five locations: Camp Lejeune, N.C.; Parris Island, S.C.; San Diego; Camp Pendleton, Calif.; or Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
The new manual includes revisions to more than half a dozen MOSs for officers and enlisted Marines in the 06 communications field, from which many cyber warriors are pulled. While most were minor and will have little effect on Marines in those specialties, changes are on the horizon.
As the cyber mission grows in importance and the Marine Corps builds its cadre of cyber warriors, Webb said to expect revisions, and possibly additions, to cyber-related MOSs.
“The stand up of Cyber Command is a mission-driven requirement,” he said. “They are reorganizing to put assets ... where they are needed. There will probably be some redescribing of MOSs.”
There are still no cyber warfare-specific MOSs, which creates similar career predicaments to those faced by UAV pilots in years past. The creation of new, cyber-specific MOSs would help Marines continue to pick up rank while honing their expertise during an entire career in the cyber community.
Another significant change this year will have positive implications for enlisted reservists serving in a civil affairs billet. The creation of a new PMOS, 0532 civil affairs specialist, provides them with a career path that has solid promotion prospects.
In the past, civil affairs duties were handled by 0531 civil affairs noncommissioned officers, a free MOS, which meant that promotion within that specialty was impossible.
“In the Reserve, there was no way to get promoted because it was not a primary MOS. So we created a primary MOS,” Webb said. “Now the Reserve has that capability to build continuity with that guy and not worry about him being afraid to stay in those [civil affairs] billets because he was afraid of not being promoted.”
Intel and recon
While the role of Marines in the 0211 intelligence MOS remains unchanged, the job was renamed from counterintelligence/human source intelligence specialist to counterintelligence/human intelligence specialist. While the change has no effect on the work, it is a notable change in an increasingly high profile specialty that Marine officials are struggling to grow.
The requirements for another occupation, 0321 reconnaissance man, were tweaked to clarify that Marines making a lateral move into the MOS must meet the same physical fitness standards — which were toughened last year — as entry-level Marines. That includes a second-class score on the Combat Fitness Test to enter training and the requirement to obtain a first-class score during phase one of training in order to remain in training.
Accelerating MOS updates
Apart from revisions to MOSs, Webb is working to change the way the manual is reviewed and published, saying the process has become cumbersome and plagued by delays. Last year, the revisions were announced in late September. This year, the release date slipped to late October. That’s a trend Webb wants to reverse.
“This year, we were taking input for the FY15 manual before the FY14 manual was officially out on the street,” Webb said.
Because the manual is published as a Marine Corps order, it must go through several levels of bureaucratic review, all the way up to the Administration and Resource Division at Headquarters Marine Corps. The fiscal 2015 manual will be published as a NAVMC, a Marine Corps publication. Because NAVMCs are the purview of the commander releasing them, the manual will be released in a timely manner, without having to go up the chain for approval.■
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